Category: Nature

Hiroshima and Miyajima island

A visit to Miyajima island near Hiroshima was recommended to me by a friend. Without that we would probably not even consider and totally miss this place which turned out to be a decent match even to Mt Fuji. So now I am fulfilling my duty of passing the recommendation on =)

We did Miyajima (and Hiroshima) as a day trip during your stay in Kyoto. Travel took away a big chunk of the day so we had to skip some interesting things =( If I knew more about Miyajima beforehand I would make sure we have a less restrictive travel plan…

First time in Japan: Mount Takao

Looking back at my experience with New York, this time I decided that four days in a big city is all I can take and that I would definitely need a nature retreat after that.

A quick search revealed that there is a cool mountain called Takao just an hour by train from Tokyo center, with a number of hiking trails up to the summit and cherry trees that bloom later than in Tokyo thanks to the altitude.

Rigi Kulm: a simple panoramic hike close to Zurich

To be honest, I was not a great fan of this trail: the place is not wild enough for me (in fact, not wild at all). On the other hand, this hike might be a nice option for people that stay in Zurich and want to get a glimpse on the main Swiss stereotypes (mountains, lakes, cows, you know). The trail is super easy – no need to climb, and only very little altitude change. Most of the path is even accessible for wheelchairs!

TL;DR

What: a hike next to Lucerne: Rigi Kulm to Rigi Scheidegg cable car station.
Why: great view on three lakes and on the Alps, clean Swiss air (with a scent of cows :D).
How long: 2-3 hours (the hike itself) + 3.5 hours (commute from Zurich and back).
How to get here: train, cable car.
Difficulty: minimal.
Ascent: 243 m.
Descent: 369 m.
How much it costs: ~65 CHF by public transport from Zurich.

“Blue” hiking trail in Alps: Randa to Domhütte

There are three categories of hiking routes in Switzerland:

  • yellow – the shortest and easiest, with little to no altitude difference; suitable for even small children; often asphalted or go along a forest road;
  • red – “mountain trails”, usually imply noticeable elevation, but generally not dangerous; you can just walk them and do not need to climb;
  • blue – “alpine trails”; to do those, you will need decent physical shape and a certain degree of craziness: steep cliffs, absence of an actual trail, glacier crossings are usual on such routes.

This post is about my first “blue” hike with an overnight in a mountain cabin.

It all started when I learned about Europaweg – a 2-day hiking trail along the Mattertal valley. On the way you have a chance to cross the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Europe (you did not seriously think that Switzerland does not have everything of the most?) as well as gorgeous views on Matterhorn and other 4K summits.

Interlaken and a bit around

Swiss are proud people, they have a lot of “the most”, for example, the steepest cable car or the highest railroad station in Europe.

This pride, amplified by the desire to attract tourists, is very present in one of the most popular regions of Switzerland – in the area of the Interlaken town.


Alpine meadows of Appenzell

One thing I really love about Switzerland is how easy it is to organize a nature getaway here. Here is my algorithm:

  1. Open a map.
  2. Pick a village next to the mountains and a forest that has a train station or at least a bus stop. A lake nearby would be a bonus.
  3. Open the website of the village or the nearest cable car. It will almost for sure contain a description of hike trails including elevation/descent numbers and the map of all trails.
  4. Pick a trail, buy a ticket and go!

A serious advantage of the approach is that like this one can find wonderful and not very famous places which means no tourists and healthier nature. One of such Alpine gems is Wasserauen in the canton of Appenzell.

Matterhorn – the Kingdom of Ice and Snow

Last time I wrote that we have no snow in Zurich, and now we finally found out where is all that snow that is meant for us =)

To learn that, we had to travel 4 hours by train from Zurich to the very border of Italy, to an area containing a large number of 4000-meter high Alpine peaks. Our goal was Matterhorn – this perfect Swiss mountain. If you have ever had Toblerone – this is exactly the peak printed on the pack! It has also inspired Toblerone’s triangle shape. Check out the similarity:


Walensee

Living in Zurich has its pros and cons. Zurich is a vivid and fast-growing city, which makes living here exciting, but at the same time the constant noise of cars and endless construction sites makes you feel a bit down from time to time.

Fortunately, apart from cities, Switzerland also has mountains, forests and lakes to offer =) Even if you pick a new hiking place every weekend, it will take a few years until you have to repeat some of them. Mountains and cliffs reflected in a lake’s still water, green forests and ringing of cow bells in otherwise absolute silence – that all is exactly what one needs to stay away from the city for a day.

This time we headed to Walensee which is situated south-west from Zurich, in the Lichtenstein direction, to bring some authentic Swiss impressions: